KATching-Up on Small Molecule Modulators of Lysine Acetyltransferases

J Med Chem. 2016 Feb 25;59(4):1249-70. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.5b01502. Epub 2016 Jan 7.


The reversible acetylation of lysines is one of the best characterized epigenetic modifications. Its involvement in many key physiological and pathological processes has been documented in numerous studies. Lysine deacetylases (KDACs) and acetyltransferases (KATs) maintain the acetylation equilibrium at histones but also many other proteins. Besides acetylation, also other acyl groups are reversibly installed at the side chain of lysines in proteins. Because of their involvement in disease, KDACs and KATs were proposed to be promising drug targets, and for KDACs, indeed, five inhibitors are now approved for human use. While there is a similar level of evidence for the potential of KATs as drug targets, no inhibitor is in clinical trials. Here, we review the evidence for the diverse roles of KATs in disease pathology, provide an overview of structural features and the available modulators, including those targeting the bromodomains of KATs, and present an outlook.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Drug Discovery
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / chemistry
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Histone Deacetylases / chemistry
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lysine / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Small Molecule Libraries / chemistry
  • Small Molecule Libraries / pharmacology*


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Histone Acetyltransferases
  • Histone Deacetylases
  • Lysine